When the bright sunshine of day creeps into night, darkness suddenly takes over San Diego. Some parts of the city settle into the quiet of night, and others rev up for the parties, but there is another side of San Diego that is rarely seen. It’s a side of the paranormal. So listen closely for the clues, the reasons why a radio may suddenly turn on or you get a chill walking through the Gaslamp Quarter. Grab your cameras, and make sure to use your flash as we tour the haunted places in San Diego together. You won’t want to miss ghost orbs, a silhouette, or a face in any of the pictures you decide to take.
Underneath the footsteps of friendly neighbors and children playing in the Mission Hills’ Pioneer Park, lie thousands of bodies that were originally buried in the Calvary Cemetery. The Cemetery was one of the oldest cemeteries in San Diego with many of the gravesites dating back to the 19th century. In the 1960s, this city cemetery had become run down to a point of disrepair. The city started The Improvement of Mission Hills Park, which redeveloped the land to the neighborhood park it is today. Many of the original gravestones were recycled or moved, and a few loom in the back as a reminder of what the land used to be. Since 1970, residents have been stomping on the gravesites of early San Diegans. Many say they feel a cold chill at the park, and get a creepy sense that someone is watching. Others experiences sightings of apparitions at night, or hear faint voices at the park. It is quite the spooky place to visit.
El Campo Santo
Just down the hill from the Calavary Cemetery is another historic cemetery called El Campo Santo in Old Town. Don’t let the small size of this cemetery fool you. There are over 400 bodies interred in the lot, as well as along the haunted San Diego Avenue! Many reports have been made of cars not starting, car alarms going off, and the street lamp flickering just outside of the cemetery. Yankee Jim, of the most famous ghosts of Old Town, is buried here. Yankee Jim was a very tall man who had been hung for stealing a boat. The urban legend of Yankee Jim is that when he was hung, the gallows were built for a man of average height, and when the wagon was pulled from beneath him, his feet touched the ground, forcing him to strangle to death. His soul lingers in the cemetery as well as where the gallows once stood.
The Whaley House in Old Town is also known to be one of the most haunted houses in America. Many ghosts sighting are reported on a daily basis. One of the theories behind the hauntings is that the house was built on the site where the original gallows once stood. Thomas Whaley built the house after he got a really good price on the lot. He was aware of the site, and had even witnessed the hanging of famous ghost, Yankee Jim. Since the house was built, his family noticed the presence of the unrest spirits, and several people also died in and around the house. Since it’s opening to the public in 1960, many guests, including professional ghost hunters, have experienced cold spots, moving furniture, strange smells, inexplicable lights, and sounds within the house.
The Gaslamp Quarter was historically known as New Town, and was originally built when the first port of San Diego was opened. As a new port in the southwestern-most part of the United States, sailors sailing from the East Coast were eager to visit the first American and English-speaking port they’d seen in a long time. As San Diego gained popularity, the demand to entertain the sailors grew, and with that, the Stingaree was developed. The Stingaree District was a lawless area specifically catering to the rugged sailors. Many murders, kidnappings, rapes, prostitution, and other unspeakable acts were a part of the daily life in the Stingaree. It’s eerie to think that many of the buildings built back then are still a part of the current Gaslamp Quarter. Our office was in 525 5th Ave, and it was normal for us to hear footsteps and voices throughout the historic building that we can only describe as paranormal activity.
The Davis-Horton House
The Davis-Horton House is the oldest standing structure in the Gaslamp Quarter. It’s also the home to the Historic Gaslamp Society. The house was brought to San Diego in 1850 by William Heath Davis in an attempt to be the first to develop the land in San Diego. The house has served as a house for the Army, the home to the San Diego founding father, Alonzo Horton, the county’s first hospital, and the home to a German spy. Many people inhabited the home, and even died in it. There have been reports and stories of a woman dressed in a Victorian dress summoning visitors up the stairs, moving furniture, and unexplainable flashes of light. Visit the house, and see if you experience anything strange. The last time I stepped foot in there, I got a cold chill, and the rocking chair directly in front of me started rocking vigorously.
On of my favorite historic buildings in San Diego is the Villa Montezuma. This Victorian/Queen Anne-style masterpiece was specifically built for the musical genius: Jesse Sheperd in 1887. Jesse was a world-renowned spiritualist, pianist and author, and was asked to move to San Diego to aid in the uprising of the arts and culture of the city. The pianist was known for his musical séances, as he channeled spirits with his music, and was known specifically to channel spiritual entities, such as Chopin, Mozart, Beethoven and Bach during his improvisational concerts. He would use his voice to simulate an entire orchestra! The city shunned this spiritual behavior, and after a couple years, Jesse moved back to Europe. The house represents his perfect home since he helped design it, and is said to still house his unrest spirit. The Villa is closed to the public, but can be admired from the street in the Sherman Heights neighborhood.
With Halloween right around the corner, we invite you to take a tour with So Diego Tours to learn more on the general history and scary places in San Diego. More of a beer person? Check out San Diego’s unique beer flavors or book our Hipster Hops Brewery Tour!0